A light in the darkness of the soul.


I’ve been fascinated by the future ever since I was a little kid. Although, come to think of it, in the 70s, most of the places I got my ideas about the future were from TV and movies, and most of them were about the present. In fact, Star Wars claims to take place in the past! But shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind brought visions of the future into the present, as if to say the future was already here, but we just didn’t know it.

When I was a teenager, in the 80s, I was obsessed with science fiction novels. I read fantasy, too, but science fiction was smarter, and carried the implied promise of events that might really happen. Since then, I’ve come to realize how much of science fiction is just fantasy in disguise. The future is an alternate reality version of the present, just like fantasy books are. Sure, it’s a truism that science fiction is really not about the future, or other planets: it is about here and now. But to see that, you have to read between the lines.

The same is true of more serious attempts to predict the future. Sure, if the point is actual prediction, as opposed to pure entertainment, maybe there’s more integrity. But I think a significant percentage of futurism is just a different kind of science fiction. It might eschew well-drawn characters and complicated plot constructions, but it’s still fiction. It’s still imaginary.

It’s kind of amazing how much of the human experience lives in the imagination. Memory. Alternate history. What could have been. Alternate presents. What should have been. The future. What will be. Other places where we are not. It’s all speculation, construction and artificial.

The more I think about the future, especially, the more I wonder if it’s good for me. For us, as a society, to obsess about what might happen tomorrow, next year, in a hundred years.

Something I noticed a long time ago was that you could classify people based on how far into the future they let their imagination go. But that’s just scratching the surface. The future is today, as you know, with some things added and some things taken away. Which things will be added or taken away, and in what order, makes all the difference. To some degree, it’s about time scales, but not absolute ones. The most significant changes, from a human perspective, are geographical: the social and physical environment. Who will you meet? Who will you lose? Where will you go? And of course, when will you die?

While people have the most impact, we have become so obsessed with machines (“technology”) that our thinkers are not thinking about those fundamental human relationships. They are mostly thinking about the economy—jobs, money, gadgets, vehicles—and the environment.

Some people are enthusiastic. Some are discouraged, or even terrified. The world could chage dramatically. It could be the end of us all. It could be heaven on Earth.

It seems like, whatever happens, it will be faster and louder and more chaotic. But in many ways, it will just be more of the same.

Yes, it will probably be different, superficially. Navigating the future may be a challenge. But at the heart of it, unless we are all killed off by robots, it will still be human. Human loves, fears, hopes, desires, and relationships.

Technology is an amplifier. With a rock, you can kill one person. With a nuclear ICBM, you can kill ten million. But it’s not the rock or the ICBM that is the real problem. It’s the murderous hatred in the heart of the person who uses that weapon.

If we create artificial intelligence, whether that AI is friendly or hostile is mostly a question of the intention of its programmer. Although, it is worth noting, a truly autonomous AI will make its own choices and define its own goals. But it’s fundamental nature will be whatever its creator decides. (There is, I should add, a risk that its nature is not at all understood by its creator, and that whatever personality emerges from its design is completely accidental and unpredicatable. But we don’t even know if such a machine is even possible. So we can’t even measure the risk.)

The attempt to create artificial intelligence, or flying cars, or holodecks, or even a Luddite utopia, are not driven by knowledge of the future. They are driven by human emotions and human imagination. For every person who sees beauty in an choice—whether to invent new technology, or to elect a certain person to political office—someone else sees horror. One person’s dream is another’s nightmare. But it all starts out as a dream.

What’s fascinating, and tragic, is not the dream, but the person having the dream. Why does one person dream of robots, space ships and living on other planets? Why does another person dream of money, sex and power? And a third dream of magical schools and fantastical beasts?

The future is what we long for and what we dread. It all comes out from inside our heads.

People will invent things. Disasters will happen. But if you want to understand the future, you need to understand the people who will make it happen. Including yourself. And isn’t that the hardest thing?



I write a lot, but I publish very little.

I write mostly in the Notes app these days. It syncs between devices, and it holds words. I don’t need much else. I also use an old app call Journlr, but it’s not updated any more, and doesn’t synchronize with anything.

I often write a few thousand words a week. Most of it is exploration.

I write about various subjects as a means to help my thinking. I keep everything categorized. I write journal entries, which are mostly about how I feel about things. Then I have contemplation, where I consider various subjects. I often have ideas for fiction, games, and inventions, which I write down and classify as product ideas. While I often feel like I should be working more on making such things, something holds me back. I also write my comments on books or articles that I’m reading, and file those under marginalia. Sometimes I even write short bits of fiction, either character sketches, dialogue, or descriptions of imaginary places.

I rarely manage to have ideas that I consider significant enough to share.

The world is already overflowing with information. I feel that I should not pollute it too much by adding low quality thoughts, ideas and opinions that haven’t gone through some real scrutiny. I do think I have good ideas, but I don’t think that they are very likely to be original. So usually I just write them in Notes, and then, if they are still with me later, I will go and find a book to read about them.

I read a lot, but not enough. Because it’s impossible to read enough. There is too much to read.

I am a software developer, by trade. But I don’t like being pigeon holed by that. Being a “software engineer”, as the tech companies like to call it, is often an excuse to be ignored in every other aspect of thinking and creativity.

I came (back) to software development a bit late. In my late 20s. It’s a lucrative field, but creatively constraining. You get to solve data processing challenges: modelling, capturing, transmitting, transforming, and presenting data. There are lots of problems to solve. That is, there are lots of problems that people will pay you to solve. But that doesn’t mean that they are important problems or worthy of being solved.

I’m not even sure about how to decide what problems are worthy of being solved. Or to what degree problem solving is the point of life, or at least work. I suppose you could couch any kind of work in terms of problem solving. Even art is trying to solve problems: of communications and the representation of ideas, of aesthetic forms, of the nature of media, of the relationship between objects and emotions.

At the root of it all are these feelings we have. Some feelings we want to experience less often, and others more often. Some are bad, and some are good. And the problem is how to make this happen. How to change our feelings by changing our environment. How to be happy by controlling the world.

Some would argue that this is a fruitless exercise. It doesn’t matter how much you manipulate the world around you. This is a proxy for trying to change yourself, which you can do directly. Unless, of course, you can’t, because it simply can’t be changed. In which case, the problem is not how to change, but the desire to change.

I am no Buddhist, but there are some fascinating ideas in there.

That’s the thing about writing for an audience: it is just one more way to try to change the environment. Specifically, a way to try to change other people. To make them think differently, with the expectation that they will then behave differently. It is an attempt to acquire and use power over other people and the environment. (This makes me very self-conscious as I write.)

It is also a way to change how we feel by following a compulsion, which otherwise builds up and builds up. I’m not quite sure how to fit this into the whole desire and power context. I think that kind of writing, if it’s not neurotic or manic or obsessive, may be different that the other way. The attempt to exert control is to engage in a kind of struggle. This seems like a cause of much suffering. On the other hand, the attempt to simply speak or express, and possibly be heard, is just being true to oneself. We don’t judge ourselves for eating when we are hungry. We shouldn’t judge ourselves for speaking when we feel the need to be noticed. It’s completely human.


There is something awful about having a feeling that you can’t express. A feeling that something is not right. That it could be different. That it could be better.

It’s like that feeling that you forgot something important, like someone’s birthday, or an idea you had in a dream. When you try to find it, it eludes you. You just can’t remember, but you know it’s there, something, and it nags at you. It makes it hard to concentrate. Other things just don’t seem very important. You can’t work. You can’t play.

But ultimately, the feeling is just a feeling. Or maybe it’s a belief. Or a suspicion. Or a sense of frustration. A sense that something is wrong. You try to forget about it. You try to go about your routine. But it comes back. When you wake up. While you’re showering or eating breakfast. During a lull. Or right before going to sleep.

Sometimes something triggers it, but you don’t know why. An article you’re reading. A memo from your boss. Something someone says offhandedly in conversation. A billboard. A joke on a TV show. It could be anything.

And there you are again. With that feeling. That something is wrong. And that you should do something about it. But you don’t know what. And you don’t know how. And there is no one you can talk to who understands. Everything thinks you’re crazy or just some jerk who talks about weird things or is always criticizing everything, even though he has no answers or ideas, and just talks about depressing shit.

And so you feel shitty, because they’re right. But you can’t do anything about it. The feeling remains. It won’t go away. The sense of wrongness, that something needs to be changed, to be fixed, to be understood, is like a cloud over everything.

Maybe you’re just mentally ill. Maybe you are depressed. Maybe you are delusional. Maybe you just have a few wires crossed. Maybe you’re projecting. Maybe you’re too imaginative, or not imaginative enough, or you’re some kind of stupid idealist, or you believe in some fantasy you haven’t admitted and grown out of, or you’re suffering from PTSD or some imaginary grievance from your childhood, or maybe you’re just confused.

Why shouldn’t you be confused? The world is confusing. Who can understand it.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? All those people who don’t want to listen to your nonsense: they all think that they understand the world. Not that they know everything that there is to know, but that they know how it works, how the pieces are arranged, what’s real and what’s not, what matter and what doesn’t, and how to live a good life and be a good person. That part is easy. It’s obvious to them. And if you say they’re wrong, then something must be wrong with you.

Maybe they’re right. Or maybe you’re right. You won’t know unless you try to find out. If there is something wrong, if there is a way to fix it, you’ll just have to keep trying. You may have to die trying. And maybe that’s tragic, or maybe it’s just sad. A billion people wish they could change the world. They’re all just experiments.  You’re an experiment. An accident. An accidental experiment. An experimental accident. No one cares if you fail. Statistically, everyone fails. They only care if you succeed.

Chances are, you won’t ever figure out what’s wrong. Or what’s right. Or how to change anything. It’s a one in a billion shot. But you just have to take it. It’s better to fail than to lie to yourself. It’s better to burn out than to sell out. It’s better to admit you don’t know than pretend. It’s better to face reality on your own terms, and suffer the consequences, than to be someone else’s puppet.

The world is full of puppets. Soldiers in someone else’s army. Robots on someone else’s assembly line. Extras in someone else’s story. Is that who you want to be?

Of course it’s nice to be wanted. It’s nice to belong. But if you don’t belong, there’s no point pretending. If you have to go it alone, or if the path leads over rocks or through the desert, there’s nothing for it. If it’s not their path, then no one else can join you.

In the meantime, you’ll just have to keep going. To keep searching. For the reason. For the answer. For the words.

Will and Meaning

I have no authority to talk about these things, but they fascinate me.

I feel in myself a deep desire for certainty of belief. I want to know that the universe is orderly, and sane, with purpose and meaning. And perhaps it is, but I will never know. At least, not by logical inference.

I believe many things, but none of them can be proven to be true. I would not go so far as to say I have faith. I would instead say that these beliefs are integral to my being.

My intellect knows, however, that these beliefs are unfounded. They exist to provide a conceptual foundation for my understanding of life. They are useful to help make sure that my mind functions in a way that serves my body. Although, in my case, I have subverted myself to the point of, you might be tempted to say, malfunction. That is, if you presume that survival and reproduction are the purpose of life.

And while you can say that, and believe it, you cannot prove it.

I am stuck with the contradiction that my emotional responses to the world are not consistent with my understanding of the world. And my intellect accepts this. But my emotions do not. So they are in conflict. And it causes me great unhappiness. My intellect is proud, and demands integrity and consistency. It refuses to accept any assertion without proof. And since proof is impossible, then it must believe nothing.

This might be fine if I simply followed my emotions. I suppose that’s what I’m trying to do. But there are obstacles. My emotions would lead me into danger. Well, some of them. So, in fact, my intellect is not the only source of conflict. My emotions themselves are in conflict. One drive is to be free, and experience things, and possess things, and to have power, and pleasure. Another drive is to survive, and avoid danger, and things that are associated with it, like embarrassment and humiliation, such as caused by defying social convention, by failure, and by rejection.

These are all such simple things. Conceptually, anyway.

What is even more frustrating, though, is how my emotions are not consistent. I think I want something, but then sometime later, I’m not sure anymore. The contradictions undermine one another. And I become vague, confused, and a bit depressed.

If I could fall back on a world view, that emphatically and unambiguously defined good and bad, right and wrong, truth and falsehood, would I be able to overcome—or at least suppress—these doubts and conflicting emotions? It’s nice to think so. But it seems unlikely.

Another strategy is to come to accept these contractions, and not let them be a source of stress. To stop expecting myself to solve the insoluble. But it seems like failure. Like giving up.

99 Avenue downtown Edmonton

Went for a walk in residential area south of the commercial district downtown, with a brief diversion to the top of 104 St @ 104 Ave. A few interesting buildings. A couple of ugly parking lots (trying to keep it real).

View from top of the embankment in Victoria Park, looking southwest towards the river. University of Alberta visible in the background.

View from top of the embankment in Victoria Park, looking southwest towards the river. University of Alberta visible in the background.

Looking west. String of condos along 100 Ave and south side of Grandin over the Victoria Golf Club.

Looking west. String of condos along 100 Ave and south side of Grandin over the Victoria Golf Club.

Rear view.

Rear view.

99 St @ 104 Ave. Front facade.

99 St @ 104 Ave. Front facade.

Front View.

Front View.

Parking Lot Freemason's Hall Freemason's Hall Entrance Federal Building

Major renovation of 108 St and repairs to the legislature building's dome.

Major renovation of 108 St and repairs to the legislature building’s dome.

One of the only neoclassical buildings in Edmonton.

One of the only neoclassical buildings in Edmonton.

Looking north. Most beautiful sidewalk in downtown Edmonton.

Looking north. Most beautiful sidewalk in downtown Edmonton.

Grandin LRT entrance.

Grandin LRT entrance.

108 St @ 99 Ave

Looking west. Grant MacEwan University on the right (north side), parking lot and Denny's on the left.

Looking west. Grant MacEwan University on the right (north side), parking lot and Denny’s on the left.

Parking lot with lovely view of parkade (what they call parking garages in Alberta).

Parking lot with lovely view of parkade (what they call parking garages in Alberta).

Looking east from the bridge over the historic street car track. Bowker building, Capital Boulevard construction and Federal building visible.

Looking east from the bridge over the historic street car track. Bowker building, Capital Boulevard construction and Federal building visible.

South side of condos looking out over Victoria Park and the river.

South side of condos looking out over Victoria Park and the river.



Photos: San Francisco 2013

Taken In February. Various buildings and street scapes, and a few shots from Alcatraz.

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Postmodern Blues

Is this a real life? Is this just fantasy?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost touch with reality. Not material reality, but social reality. Actually, it’s more like I’ve lost any faith that society has anything to do with reality. And perhaps it’s wrong to expect it to. But I just can’t get excited about fantasies any more.

People tell stories. A lot of the time, those stories are fantastical to some degree. Some stories are literally classified as fantasies, but I don’t just mean those. I mean the stories we tell ourselves every day, about our jobs, our hobbies and interests, our families, the things that give us meaning and a sense of purpose, and what makes us feel significant. Culture is the medium of story-telling, and these days, its overloaded with fantasies.

The thing is, if you strip all those fantasies away, all you have left are animal instincts and the concern for basic material needs. But these just don’t fill up much time, at least for me. Honestly, I don’t think they’d fill up much time for anyone if it weren’t for all the other distractions, the fantasy needs. Certainly, if a small minority of extremely obsessed, and slightly deluded, people weren’t constantly trying to raise the bar, to up the stakes in the arms race of social status, we’d all have a lot more time to focus on practical matters, or to just relax.

I know that a lot of people don’t actually believe that they have much time for chasing after fantasies. Those people have two things I don’t: children and houses (well, probably only one house). Those are two things I’ve avoided. I’m not saying I wouldn’t find meaning in owning a house. It would certainly give me something practical to focus on, and keep me motivated to work hard to make income to pay all those bills that a house brings with it. Nor am I against having children, per se. But the job+house+car+kids+school+vacations+anxiety is not for me. I have anxiety enough without all the additional stress, conflict and endless running around.

I think I’m existentially exhausted from too much dissociated information.

I’m also hitting another career disillusionment patch. It’s nice to have the option to take a break, which I’m doing. My expenses are low, and my rates are high, so I don’t have to do a lot of work to keep myself comfortable. I can stop and consider what all this craziness is about.

It doesn’t seem to be about anything but itself. It’s a self-perpetuating do-nothing machine.

If people just lived and worked in the same place, with the same people, would they need smart phones and social media to keep in touch? Would they need cars and trucks to drive around in?

I know people want to own nice things. I want to own nice things. But how many people actually own nice things? A few people don’t need to buy things from IKEA, although some do anyway, just because they don’t have time to learn how to shop for nice furniture. If you own nice things, you have to take care of them. Or you should, at any rate. The point of nice things is that they last a long time.

Then again, a lot of people seem to want to buy nice things that have very short life spans. Disposable designer goods. Clothing, gadgets, housewares. Some people even go through cars and houses as fast as they go through socks. But I guess if you have the money, you might as well spend it, right? Though I don’t know what this says about the people who spend money that they don’t have.

I would like to make something wonderful. But my mental space is too full of short-lived, low-quality, high-noise concepts. Being a consumer software developer is a ticket to a world of wandering attention spans, disconnected news bites, confusing marketing messages and deceptive advertisements for fantasy cure-alls. It’s the same all across the consumer media and cultural environment, whether popular or haute. Someone’s always selling something. Everything is for sale.

I know some people find refuge in art, or nature, or science, or various other activities where they can shift into a different state of consciousness, and this gives them respite from the feeling of being constantly influenced by invasive messages. But I see it everywhere. OK, not in nature. And not so much in science, which is very close to nature: the world that exists regardless of human interference. But society, people, are a perpetual source of semiotic influence. Everything anyone says or does is saturated with semiotic viruses trying to infiltrate your understanding and cultural interpretations.

I got into software because a) I’m good at it, b) it pays well, and c) I wanted to make conceptual, interactive models of dynamic systems. But the buyers of software only want one of two kinds of models: models of imaginary worlds in which you get to pretend to be some kind of super-hero, some construct of ideal humanity that has evolved as part of our cultural self-image, or models of consumers and social networks, which are built by companies who are interested in making new cultural images for you to try to live up to, so that you’ll buy their symbolic products, whether real, virtual, or (usually) some blend of the two. Some people want to sell a fantasy, and others want to buy a fantasy. So it all works out.

I’m not interested in buying or selling fantasies any more. But I’m not sure what to fill my time with instead. I am close to completely convinced that everything beyond basic material needs represent one kind of fantasy or another. The past is a fantasy. The future is a fantasy. Far-away places are a fantasy. If it’s not immediately in front of you, you’re imagining it, and it’s almost immaterial whether or not it’s real, except insofar as you value what you believe to be true over what you would merely like to be true. It’s all equally imaginary.

In other words, I am imaginary, and you are imaginary, and everyone that we think we know is also imaginary. Everything you own is imaginary (since ownership itself is imaginary). Money is imaginary. Society is imaginary. Meaning is imaginary. Not that that makes things less meaningful. But it puts a lot of doubt in my ability to believe that any particular activity is especially significant, since I know that the sense of meaning is contrived. It makes me tired. And it makes me hungry.

I’m going to go make some tea or something.

I hate social media companies

Or perhaps I resent them.

They ask their users to create content—to do the vast majority of the work at creating a significant environment for interacting and sharing—and then they advertise and make a killing.

I’ve made no bones about my dislike of Facebook. While I haven’t deleted my account, I never use it. I do use Twitter, and now I’m on WordPress, technically a social media company, too. Same principle, same results. Although at least I maintain control of my own words, here.

I want to have the guts to ditch Twitter. I want it to be replaced with a free, open source distributed system, like e-mail. But it would require a non-profit, a crazy philanthropist, or a government agency to make that happen.

I also hate e-mail, for different reasons than I hate contemporary social media. E-mail is architecturally sound, but the inability of most implementations to follow the specifications, the problems with the specifications themselves, and issues like spam and HTML mail and sync, weigh it down tremendously.

Some years ago, I was hoping that Jabber/XMPP would replace e-mail and also handle the work of IM and anything else that fit the secure publish-subscribe model. But instead we got corporate social media.

The profit motive gives us what we want, but only partly. The civic motive could give us all of what we want, but nobody seems to know it’s even a possibility. It would require buyers to be informed as to the issues and alternatives. But people don’t have time to be informed before they make a decision. It seems that it’s only important to be informed after the decision is already made. So that you can either make the same decision as everyone else, or rationalize.

Distributed and open social media platforms require the participation of lots of parties, instead of just one central corporation. E-mail requires servers to be operated, or at least paid for, by every organization which owns its own domain name. Likewise, the domain name system itself is distributed, to great effect.

DNS is a mandatory feature of the Internet. Although there is nothing saying that it couldn’t be taken over by a single private company, as terrible as that would be (in my opinion). It’s actually somewhat amazing that there hasn’t been a rapid centralization of ISPs, domain registrars and other Internet service suppliers. Even though the big players account for a lot of the Internet delivery and name management, the number of smaller players is still pretty big.

So why not social media? Why not have a whole industry of name books and thought streams? Why not store your thoughts, posts and images with one or more companies that you choose from amongst a group who compete for your business? Why not have the choice of any number of apps which provide submission interfaces and browsing interfaces that match your needs and your style?

It can be done. Developers will make it. We just have to say that we want it. Maybe there will still be ads and even scams, but it would cut down on all the undesired app clutter, and make it a lot harder for companies to sell you and your data, while giving you nothing but the appearance of a service that is honestly pretty straightforward. All the intelligence is in the analysis and marketing, not the data management.

Strip away the noise, and you would have something clean and simple and easy to work with. All that is required are companies to host your data for you, and even that could be handled by a cheap data storage server and an access service.

That’s all I want.

Why do the “wrong” people end up in charge?

Because the “right” people have decided that they have better things to do.

Running an organization, whether a business or a non-profit, a small town or a large country, is a lot of work, and requires a lot of skill (to do well). You make decisions on how to use finite time, money and other resources to best achieve the goals of the organization. While the end goal may be straightforward—”make a profit” or “make society better”—it’s not at all obvious how to accomplish that. If it were, there were be no challenge. If there is no challenge, there is no reward.

So why do so many talented and ethically grounded people find the idea of leadership—management—so unpleasant? Is it too tough? Do they think it’s boring? Or do they believe that they lack the necessary skills to lead?

No one is a born leader. Leadership is a skill learned by conscientious effort: through study, practise and experience. You need to get your ten thousand hours. Like any skill, there are undoubtedly personality traits or other natural abilities which may provide an advantage, but they aren’t mandatory prerequisites to do well. The only mandatory requirement is a conviction that leadership is important.

And how could it not be important? Virtually every significant achievement of the last century relied on the contributions of a group of individuals.

Every group with an explicit goal needs to be organized. The most efficient structure, historically, has been some variation of a hierarchy. I’m not convinced that the distribution of responsibility and that of power must necessarily match up exactly, It seems to often work out that way. It may be another symptom of the fact I’m trying to emphasize.

Leaders get to decide how an organization will be structured, and how responsibility and power will be distributed. If people with ethical principles, creativity and dedication do not become leaders, it follows that those without those qualities will have to fill in. And of course they want to fill in, because positions of leadership are most amenable to abuse and corruption by the unethical.

The role of leadership desperately needs an image makeover. It needs to be re-imagined to be less attractive to the untalented and unscrupulous, and more attractive to the principled and capable. There are a lot of bad leaders out there: bad politicians, bad judges, bad officers, bad managers. But if you have no talent or ability, you’re going to try to fake it, and the best place to fake it is in a place where people assume that talent is neither necessary nor important.

The assumption, either explicit or implicit, that leaders are people who have no other practical, useful talents is an extremely bad one for a society which depends so heavily on the abilities of those who manage, organize and direct.

Every day, countless intelligent, capable and creative people decide not to participate in choosing who gets to make the most important decisions. At best, they wait until the choices have all been made before voicing their opinion: they complain about the results, they don’t buy the product, they vote negatively instead of positively.

It’s absurd. It’s madness. It’s self-destructive, because it undermines the success of every organization of which we are directly or indirectly a part, weakening those organizations’ chances of success, and consequently, our chances for individual reward.

The way we think about leadership needs to change, or the situation will only get worse.


We arrived in Edmonton on Saturday, and took possession of our rented condo on Sunday. Our stuff is being delivered tomorrow. We have to sleep on the air mattress for one more night.

Ms. Brillient started her new job yesterday. She’s already immensely happier. It takes her less than twenty minutes between here and there. She starts at nine and works a standard eight hours.

We’ve been walking around a bit. It’s different, but not surprisingly so. Urban development is a chaotic mismash. There doesn’t appear to be much, if any, real plan to the growth strategy. The architecture is a real mix. There are a few attempts and shopping-oriented streets or intersections, but not many pedestrians. It’s not a city for pedestrians.

Well, what I’ve seen of it. Mostly downtown and Oliver, where we live, just west of downtown. It’s built for cars, with long, wide, multi-lane streets. The street numbering is very rational. The city is divided into four quadrants along major compass directions. Every street is both North or South and East or West. We’re in the Northwest. Streets and avenues run north/south and east/west respectively, and are numbered starting at 100.

Building numbers count up from each cross street (or avenue), and are prefixed with that street’s number. So 11016 -114 Avenue is #16 up from 110th Street on 114 Avenue. In this quadrant, NorthWest, street numbers count up to the north (Streets) or west (Avenues). I assume it’s similar in the other sectors.

The city is chock full of enormous pickup trucks, as expected, driven predominantly by young men wearing baseball caps and mirrored sunglasses. Many people I’ve seen on the street in Oliver look worn and weathered. I’m seeing people most likely to be out and about during the day, instead of at work: retired people, teenage loafers, labourers and mechanics, people between jobs. It’s a little different than the hipsters and slovenly high tech workers of Queen West and Liberty Village.

I’ve gotten a few curious or doubtful stares, but no overt hostility. I wouldn’t think I would attract much attention, but I’m sure I don’t look like your typical Oilers fan. But I probably need a hair cut.